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blood +‎ letting


bloodletting (plural bloodlettings)

  1. (historical, medicine) The archaic practice of treating illness by removing some blood, believed to be tainted, from the stricken person.
    • 1833, R. J. Bertin, Charles W. Chauncy, transl., Treatise on the Diseases of the Heart, and Great Vessels, Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blnachard, page 207:
      The pungent pain, dyspnœa, cephalalgia, redness of the face, pulsations of the heart, strong and rapid, the pulse full and vibrating, induced M. Peyrade, then attached to that hospital, to practise blood-letting in the arm. It was followed with marked relief.
    Synonym: bleeding
  2. (by extension) The diminishment of any resource with the hope that this will lead to a positive effect.
    Yet another round of corporate bloodletting.
  3. A circumstance, such as a battle, where a large amount of blood is likely to be spilled through violence.
    Synonym: bloodshed
    • 1981, “Mid-Century Rebels”, in Jeh-hang Lai, transl.; Patricia Buckley Ebrey, editor, Chinese Civilization and Society: A Sourcebook[1], New York: The Free Press, →ISBN, →LCCN, →OCLC, →OL, page 230:
      In 1856 Tu Wen-hsiu rose up in rebellion and occupied Ta-li.[...]"The conflict between the Han Chinese and the Moslems began over trifles. It has developed into a tragedy of mutual bloodletting because of poor management by the civil and military officials at Yung-ch'ang county and of Yunnan province. As a result, the mutual killing spread throughout Yunnan. The fault lies not with the people but with the officials."

Related termsEdit




  1. present participle of bloodlet